he National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) has joined in the efforts to provide assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Rep. Mary H. Coleman (MS), NBCSL President, established a Taskforce on Hurricane Katrina to identify short and long-term solutions for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and to address problems of displaced residents. Alongside the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus (LLBC), NBCSL is accepting monetary donations and supplies to help those along the Gulf Coast who were impacted by Hurricane Katrina. A wish list has been provided by the LLBC of the supplies that are of an urgent need. If you have any questions, please contact the NBCSL national office at 202.624.5457. Monetary donations can be sent to: National Black Caucus of State Legislators c/o Relief Funds 444 North Capitol Street NW Suite 622 Washington, DC 20001 Supplies can be sent to: Hurricane Katrina Relief c/o Fields Firm (Senator Cleo Fields) 2147 Government Street Baton Rouge, LA 70806 • • • • • • • • • • • • Water Non-perishable food items Blanket and sheets Pillows Diapers Canned formula Socks Undergarments (male and female gender) Clothing Baby wipes Baby food Toiletries
A Publication of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators
Join Us in the Effort to Help Hurricane Katrina Victims
Connecting to College Success: NBCSL and the College Board Hold a Policy Briefing in New York
By: Abeo F. Anderson, Policy Associate NBCSL Committee on Post-Secondary Education
n June 10, 2005, at The College Board headquarters in New York City, NBCSL members, who advocate for improving postsecondary and K-12 education, attended a “Policy Briefing on African American Student Achievement.” This meeting helped to strengthen connections between members of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and The College Board. Chair of the NBCSL Committee on PostSecondary Education, Representative Gregory Porter
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By: Faye Anderson, Policy Consultant
his year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of P.L. 89-97, the Social Security Amendments of 1965, which created the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Medicaid is a joint federal-state health insurance program. It covers 25 million children, 14 million low-income adults, 5 million seniors and 8 million persons with disabilities. In the beginning, Medicaid was conceived and perceived as a “welfare program.” Today, 74 percent of
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© 2005 National Black Caucus of State Legislators
2 President’s Message 3 CRT/LRT Round Table 4 Roll Call 14 Business & Finance News 15 Housing News
The Silent Killer: Diabetes in the African American Community continued on page 13
PROVIDING THE VOICE FOR OUR CONSTITUENTS
By Mary H. Coleman
Dear Members and Supporters,
he tragedy in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina exposed the weaknesses and the strengths of this country. It took rescuers far too long to reach displaced Americans in New Orleans. And while the focus has rightly been concentrated on New Orleans, where hundreds and thousands of Americans are without a home, we cannot forget those who lost their homes along the gulf shores in Mississippi and Alabama. Millions of Americans are volunteering their time, donating money, clothes, diapers and other supplies for the thousands of men and women who lost their homes and jobs. The compassion of millions of Americans is strong. The recovery and rebuilding of this historic city will take years. The reality is that many from New Orleans will never return to the city they called home. Many families have left Louisiana, and are in states throughout this country. It is the states’ responsibility as members of this union we call the United States to ensure that the men, women, and children are given the best opportunities to rebuild their lives. Many families will need our help in the coming months and years! As we work to rebuild New Orleans and the gulf shores, we must not forget the main reason many did not leave the city of New Orleans was because of lack of money, no transportation and no place to go. This is why the work we do each year to learn more about health, education, labor and income issues is so very important. More so today than it was just a few weeks ago. This year, NBCSL has convened eight policy symposiums that have helped to broaden our awareness of legislative issues, ranging from housing and education to Medicaid and health. We are grateful for the support of our sponsors who provide us with the opportunity to engage in policy discussions that analyze viewpoints on a wide array of policy issues. As legislators, it is important that we remain up to date on the changing interests and concerns of those we represent. This work and education will help us make informed decisions as we ratify policy resolutions at our 29th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC December 711, 2005. I am certain that the tragedy in New Orleans and in the Gulf will be among the major topics we will address. Today, America is burdened with a war in Iraq that continues to take the lives of young Americans who answered the call to duty. To our soldiers in Iraq and around the world, we salute
and support you. To the family members who have lost soldiers in this war we mourn your loss and pray for the safe return of the thousands of men and women who are in harms way. In many of our states, legislators were, and for some of us, are still being called into special legislative sessions to address our state’s budget. The decisions we have been faced with, and the cuts we have made this year were difficult. It is important that we work to preserve the goals of our programs while finding innovative ways to cut costs. Growing energy costs are making it more difficult for low income Americans to pay for gasoline at the pump, and, with winter fast approaching, it will be more and more difficult for Americans to pay soaring costs to heat their homes. This is an issue that low-income Americans, including our children and elderly will be faced with. We must find solutions to address this problem before we begin losing lives in the months to come. Health disparities continue due to unequal access to care. Obesity and diabetes continue to shorten the lifespan of millions of Americans. Medicaid is being attacked in each of our states. The high cost of care is difficult for many of our constituents and without jobs and opportunities in education the pitfalls that plague many Americans will continue to exist. Each year, during NBCSL’s Annual Legislative Conference, we come together to address many of these issues with the hope of finding solutions to our growing problems. We have found solutions to many problems, but we know there is plenty of work to be done to ensure that preventative measures are taken to protect all Americans. As state legislators, we carry the torch forward with the hope of handing our children’s children a world where they will not be riddled with the debts that we incur today. I hope that you will join us in Washington, DC at the Marriott Wardman Hotel, December 7-11, 2005, where we will discuss many of the critical policy concerns confronting us as Americans. We need to hear from you to ensure that all stakeholders are heard and represented so that we as legislators will make informed decisions that will improve the quality of life for all Americans. May God bless the families in New Orleans and the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. And may God bless all of us in our endeavors to protect the lives and provide a voice to the millions across America that we represent!
2004-2006 NBCSL EXECUTIVE OFFICERS Rep. Mary H. Coleman (MS) President Rep. Calvin Smyre (GA) Vice President Rep. Barbara W. Ballard (KS) 1st Vice President Rep. Ulysses Jones (TN) 2nd Vice President Sen. Kay Patterson (SC) Secretary Rep. LaNett Stanley-Turner (GA) Recording Secretary Sen. C.J. Prentiss (OH) Financial Secretary Sen. Rodger M. Smitherman (AL) Treasurer Sen. Hillman Frazier (MS) Parliamentarian Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (PA) Chaplain REGIONAL CHAIRS: Rep. Kenneth Green (CT) Chair, Region I Rep. LeAnna Washington (PA) Chair, Region II Del. Nathaniel Oaks (MD) Chair, Region III Rep. Joe Armstrong (TN) Chair, Region IV Rep. Larry Womble (NC) Chair, Region V Rep. Sharon Beasley-Teague (GA) Chair, Region VI Rep. John W. Rogers, Jr. (AL) Chair, Region VII Rep. Greg Porter (IN) Chair, Region VIII Rep. Shirley Smith (OH) Chair, Region IX Sen. Tracy Steele (AR) Chair, Region X Rep. Craig Bland (MO) Chair, Region XI Sen. Bettye Davis (AK) Chair, Region XII EX-OFFICIO MEMBERS: Calvin Booker Chair, Corporate Round Table Willie L. Baker, Jr. Chair, Labor Round Table LaKimba DeSadier Walker Executive Director, NBCSL
Publisher: Rep. Mary H. Coleman (MS) Managing Editor: Chantel Bivins Editor: Atiba Madyun Newsletter Design: Conceptual Geniuses
Mary H. Coleman Mississippi House of Representatives NBCSL President
444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 622 Washington, DC 20001 202-624-5457 • 202-508-3826 fax Website: www.nbcsl.com
THE LEGISLATOR • 2
UCUS OF STA TE L CK C A EG ISL
AT OR S
Corporate Round Table
Wal-Mart: Fostering Ideals in the Workplace
By: M. Susan Chambers Executive Vice President of Benefits Administration Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Labor Round Table
Information for Policymakers, Accountability for Employers
By: Michael J. Wilson, Director, UFCW Legislative and Political Action Department
n recent months, Wal-Mart Watch and Wake-Up Wal-Mart have attacked our company to help further their own special-interest agenda. These union-funded activist organizations are spending millions of their members’ dollars to publicly smear a company that will create more than 100,000 jobs this year, pay billions of dollars in taxes, support more than 100,000 charitable organizations, provide health insurance to more than 950,000 Americans, and help consumers and communities improve their quality of life. Wal-Mart Watch cynically states that its purpose is to make WalMart “a better company,” yet its tactics are clearly designed to pressure Wal-Mart (following organized labor’s failure to organize Wal-Mart’s more than 1.2 million U.S. associates into a labor union). That said, let’s look at the real facts. Wal-Mart’s full-time hourly associates are paid an average of just under $10 an hour, competitive with and often better than the hourly wages paid by competing retailers. More than half a million of Wal-Mart’s associates receive health benefits through the company; a majority of the remainder of our associates receive health insurance through a spouse, parent or retirement program. Fourteen percent of our associates say they don’t have health insurance at all. We suspect that some number of these associates turn to more affordable state Medicaid programs which were designed to provide medical coverage at very low cost to relatively low-income residents, at better premiums and related costs than even Wal-Mart can negotiate. What’s often overlooked in this “debate” is that Wal-Mart often provides the mechanism for associates to remove themselves from public assistance and build a better life. Seventy-six percent of our store management began in hourly jobs at our stores (often their first jobs). We promote, on average, one associate every hour of every day into a management position in the United States. And as we grow, we’re creating more opportunities for our associates to grow personally, professionally and economically. In short, every day, we help people move off unemployment rolls, off the uninsured rolls, and get on the path of greater economic and personal success. Wal-Mart Watch and others fail to credit Wal-Mart for helping people to move off public health rolls. The Segmentation Company surveyed our associates last December and found that 7 percent were on Medicaid prior to joining Wal-Mart. After three months, the number fell to 5 percent. After two years, it fell even further, to 3 percent. We estimate that 160,000 people have been taken off the list of America’s uninsured after coming to work for Wal-Mart.
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The challenge in addressing the nation’s health care crisis is significant and complicated. We all know the numbers: 48 million Americans without health care. Health care costs continue to increase, $1.8 trillion this year and $1.7 trillion the year before. The Medicaid program is a victim of this system. Medicaid recipients have limited health care choices, and state legislators such as you are caught between spiraling costs and uninsured and under-insured constituents. That’s who “Medicaid recipients” are - they are your constituents, your neighbors, and people in your community. There is a national movement to provide more information to policymakers at the state level. Why? As state governments face Medicaid funding issues and working families struggle to keep their families healthy, some profitable multinational companies are shifting their health care costs to the states. At the federal level, Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Corzine (D-NJ) joined U.S. Representative Weiner (D-NY) to introduce H.R. 3042 and S.1286, the Health Care Accountability Act. This important legislation would require states to produce annual reports that list by company, the number of employees who rely on publicly-funded health care and the cost to state taxpayers of providing this coverage. We also have model state level legislation which we would be happy to provide to you upon request. We believe the information provided by the Health Care Accountability Act is an important first step for policymakers, health care advocates, and employers. Recent studies have shown a large number of workers and their children must turn to public health programs for low-income workers and their families because their low wages make it nearly impossible for them to afford the relatively high premiums that their employers charge to participate in their health care plans. This important legislation provides some of the information that policymakers need to address the important issue of health care. Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and Hawaii have already passed state health care disclosure legislation, and many others are considering it. For example, in the 15 states that have collected information on employees who are dependent upon state health care insurance, one company—Wal-Mart—has cost taxpayers more than $210 million by shifting the cost of health care to taxpayers in Massachusetts, Georgia, Oregon, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and other states. This legislation is not about a single company, it is about providing critical health care information to policymakers—like members of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators—who have to wrestle with Medicaid budgets at the state level. There is no doubt that working parents with children are better off with Medicaid than
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3 • NEWS 2005 • December
Bill to Eliminate the Crack and Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity Passed by Connecticut Legislature
Connecticut is currently one of thirteen states with major crack and powder cocaine sentencing distinctions. Currently, it takes 28 grams (28g) of powder cocaine to trigger the same mandatory minimum sentence as only half a gram of crack, although they are two forms of the same drug. However, on May 19, 2005, a bill that would eliminate the disparity in Connecticut’s crack and powder cocaine law passed in the Senate, setting the stage for Governor Jodi Rell to sign it into law. HB 5076 calls for the amount of cocaine that subjects a person to a stiff mandatory minimum sentence to be one ounce or more regardless of whether the cocaine is crack or powder cocaine. House Bill 5076 is co-sponsored by State Representatives Marie Kirkley-Bey and Faith McMahon and is also supported by Connecticut’s Black and Latino Caucus. “We applaud Connecticut legislators for taking this important step toward eliminating one of the most racist byproducts of the war on drugs,” said Robert Rooks of the Connecticut Alliance, a coalition of community organizations working to end the racial disparity in the war on drugs. “Connecticut’s legislature has made a statement today,” said Michael Blain of the Drug Policy Alliance. “They’ve said that the first step toward ending the failed war on drugs is taking the underlying racism out of it. We hope their voices are heard on Capitol Hill.” To see the full bill visit the Connecticut General Assembly website at www.cga.ct.gov. insurance companies to provide coverage for mammograms for women at the age deemed medically necessary by the woman’s physician was recently signed into law by Governor Rod Blagojevich. For women with a family history of breast cancer, many doctors recommend that they begin annual mammograms ten years prior to the age at which their family member was first diagnosed. State law currently requires insurers to provide annual mammograms for women 40 years of age or older. “Breast cancer is an important issue to all women,” said Senator Hunter. “The more women we can get screened, the more lives we can save. With the passage of this legislation, I want to encourage all women to speak with their doctors regarding screening.” Senator Hunter also encourages women to investigate the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program which offers free mammograms, breast exams, pelvic exams and Pap tests to eligible women. Funded cooperatively by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the program was created to provide breast and cervical cancer screening and referrals to low-income, uninsured women. Since the program was launched in Illinois in 1995, almost 35,000 women have been screened for breast and cervical cancers. To enroll in the program, women should first call IDPH’s Women’s Health-Line at 888522-1282. For more information contact Bryen Johnson at 217-782-0566. and to punish anyone who infringes on the human rights of those attempting to secure housing. In response to federal cuts to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, Yarbrough passed Senate Bill 75 and House Bill 917. Senate Bill 75 seeks to prevent low-income families from becoming homeless by creating a program that provides subsidies directly to landlords to allow them to lower tenants’ rent. House Bill 917 deals with the intimidation, interference, or coercion of anyone attempting to exercise rights granted under the Real Estate Transaction Act a human rights violation. “We made great strides this year towards making housing more affordable, but unfortunately, we are battling a federal government that wants to make it more difficult for families to afford to live where they choose,” Yarbrough said. “I will continue to support legislation that sends a message to Washington that we should be making it easier to find a place to live, not easier to end up homeless.” Many low-income families fortunate enough to purchase their own home, or who
Attention All Caucus Chairs
Each year during the National Black Caucus of State Legislators Annual Legislative Conference, a memorial service is held for legislators who have passed in the last three years. Therefore, we are asking all NBCSL Caucus Chairs to submit a list of their members who are no longer with us. Please fax all information to the NBCSL national office at 202.508.3826. The deadline to submit this information is October 31, 2005. If you have any questions contact the office at 202.624.5457. Thank you for your cooperation in honoring those who have paved the way before and along side our members.
Senator Hunter’s Bill on Insurance becomes a Law
Legislation sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter (IL) requiring
Rep. Karen Yarbrough promotes affordable housing
Illinois legislator Representative Karen Yarbrough, Chair of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, helped to usher new legislation to make renting more affordable
THE LEGISLATOR • 4
decide to refinance their mortgage, are often targeted by predatory lenders. Struggling families often have trouble finding a financial institution willing to loan them money at a reasonable rate, which has led to the proliferation of unscrupulous lenders. These lenders engage in a variety of tactics, including hidden rates and fees, “bait and switch,” and approving loans they know will lead to foreclosure. Yarbrough sponsored a measure, House Bill 4050, which initiates a stateside pilot study of predatory lending that includes the two local communities of Bellwood and Maywood. For more information contact Rep. Karen Yarbrough at 708-615-1747. 1984 and plans to remain in the Reserves for several more years. Brown first joined the Army Reserves in 1992 as an Aviation Officer and commanded the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 5/159th Aviation Battalion, Fort Meade, MD. Delegate Brown has been a member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 1999 and was appointed Majority Whip by Speaker Michael E. Busch just prior to his military deployment in June 2004. Before his appointment, Brown served as Vice Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee where he will remain as a member. For more information contact Kathy Mizzer, Legislative Aide, at 301-306-1222. Whip and serves as an ex-officio member of the committees on Rules; Judiciary; and Utilities.
Senator Yvonne Wilson Announces Signing of Bill Removing Racist Language from Housing Records
Senate Bill 168 removes clauses from Kansas City housing association covenants intended to discriminate against blacks, Jews, and other minorities. Although these documents have long since been discredited, the language remains offensive and embarrassing. “The language in these documents is a painful reminder of a bleak time, one that needs to be left behind us,” Wilson said. “While we should not forget this part of our history, these documents mar the efforts of all Missourians to foster an environment of peace and equality.” More than 1,200 documents affecting thousands of homes in the Kansas City area contain the prejudicial clauses, which were common early in the 20th century. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the covenants unenforceable in 1948, and the U.S. Fair Housing Act later deemed them illegal. However, the covenants were written in such a way to make eliminating them nearly impossible, even for the housing agencies themselves. Legislation was considered the quickest and easiest way to be rid of the language, and SB 168 contains an amendment introduced by Sen. Wilson that removes the discriminatory words from the housing covenants. “The calls to have these documents changed have rung loud and clear, and today they have been answered,” Wilson said. “No longer will these documents stand as a relic of a troubled past. Today, the state of Missouri is moving on.” For more information contact Senator Yvonne S. Wilson at 573-751-9758.
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Delegate Anthony G. Brown Returns from Iraq
Delegate Anthony G. Brown (MD), a Lieutenant Colonel, was called to active military service in July 2004. Brown supported the United States Army by providing legal advice to the 353rd CACOM’s commanding general and worked closely with the Iraqi Transitional Government’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration. Relying on his legislative experience, Brown also provided capacity-building workshops to members of the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly. “Despite the enormous challenges to the United States government’s ability to help establish democracy in Iraq, I personally witnessed the progress being made, albeit gradually, by the Iraqi people and their government. Upon reflection, I will always cherish my experience in Iraq and the many relationships that I forged with the fine people of Iraq.” Brown said. While in Iraq, Lt. Col. Brown was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service while assigned to the Civil Military Operations (CMO) Directorate of the Multi-National Force—Iraq. He has served in the Active and Reserve Army since
Representative Connie L. Johnson Included in Marquis Who’s Who
Representative Connie L. Johnson (MO) has been listed in two editions of the prestigious biographical reference Marquis Who’s Who. The family of Marquis Who’s Who publications presents unmatched coverage of the lives of today’s leaders and achievers from both the United State and around the world, and from every significant filed of endeavor. She received honor of being included in the following editions: • 2005-2006 Who’s Who in American Politics; and • 2004-2005 Who’s Who in Black St. Louis. The original Who’s Who in America was founded and published by Albert Nelson Marquis in 1899 to serve as an accurate, concise source of biography for notable Americans. Marquis wanted to create a reference source that would reflect America’s unique ethic of hard work and success. You must perform a significant contribution to society through achievement or position to earn a place in Who’s Who. Rep. Johnson is the Democrat Minority
5 • NEWS 2005 • December
Investigation of Past Records of Slavery Profiting in North Carolina
In North Carolina, companies seeking state contracts would have to examine their pasts under a bill approved by a House committee. The measure would require companies to determine whether they profited from the 19th-century slave trade in the United States. Representatives Earl Jones of Greensboro and Larry Womble of Winston-Salem championed the bill. If it becomes law, companies would have to submit an affidavit stating their research findings but would not have to take specific steps if they should find they profited from slavery. Companies that decline to file affidavits or fail to fully disclose their past could have their contracts revoked, but the proposal would not mandate a termination of the deal. However, Womble plans to introduce amendments to the legislation calling on companies to create scholarship funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. A similar law in California prompted large companies to contribute to organizations that work to improve life in the African American community. A similar city ordinance passed in Chicago in 2002 has led to disclosures and apologies from large corporations that do business with the city. Lehman Brothers, a financial-services company, revealed that three brothers who founded the company purchased or may have personally owned slaves. JPMorgan Chase & Co. apologized after announcing two predecessor banks in Louisiana received thousands of slaves as collateral before the Civil War. For more information contact Rep. Larry Womble at 919-733-5777 or 336-784-9373. heart says that these people were greatly harmed.” However, Odom’s agency and the governor’s office have failed to take action to help victims despite a recommendation by an appointed commission for the state to at least provide health and education benefits. Despite the uncertainty about numbers of victims, the figure in Womble’s draft was close to one of the few cases in which a government has paid compensation to sterilization victims. In 1997, Sweden acknowledged that it had sterilized more than 60,000 people from 1935 to 1975, and it set up a commission to examine the program. Within a year, officials offered payments of $21,000 to those who could document that they were involuntarily sterilized. More than 2,000 people filed claims, and at least 1,500 people were compensated at a cost of about $33 million. But the Swedish commission also found that about 30,000 of those sterilized had truly consented to the operation, and those people were not eligible for compensation. Womble said that under his proposal, victims would simply have to establish that they were sterilized under the state program. Records of the operations are kept under seal at the State Archives in Raleigh. About 65,000 people were sterilized in 33 states from 1909 until the 1970s, but in other states, most operations were done before World War II. A spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services did not return a phone call, but said in an e-mail that the agency has “made some progress” on separate legislation to help sterilization victims. That proposal is under review, but no final decisions have been made, according to the spokeswoman. Womble and Rep. Earl Jones, DGuilford, also filed a bill earlier this month that would require companies that contract with the state to search their records for participation in the slavery business and disclose any profits they derived. That bill got a favorable recommendation from the House State Government Committee, of which Womble is a co-chairman. Womble said that, so far, Jones is the only legislator who has signed on to the
Eugenics Reparations Bill Introduced in North Carolina
A North Carolina state legislator is making the first attempt in the nation to put a dollar figure on the wrongs suffered by victims of eugenic sterilization. In North Carolina, about 7,600 people were sterilized under the state’s program, many of them against their will. It was the third largest eugenics program in the nation, after California and Virginia. Rep. Larry Womble has filed legislation that will ask the state to make payments to surviving victims of the N.C. Eugenics program, which was active from 1929 to 1974. A draft of the bill asked for $50 million over the next two years, and set $20,000 as the payment to each victim, in addition to state coverage of health, education and counseling benefits. After reviewing the bill, however, Womble said that he would increase the payment, even though some legislative staff members warned that it will make it even harder for the bill to pass, given the deficit in the state budget. Gov. Mike Easley apologized for the sterilization program in 2002 after the abuses were exposed by a local newspaper. At the same time, Carmen Hooker Odom, the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said: “On the face of it, (reparations) would be something that I think the state should consider. My
Keep Us Updated
If you have changed seats, addresses or phone numbers please let the NBCSL national office know. We would like to keep an accurate record of our legislative members. Members of the NBCSL Corporate and Labor Round Tables, it is important that you keep us informed also. Corporate members submit your updated information to Charles Walker of Walk-On Management at [email protected]
Labor members send all information to Atiba Madyun, NBCSL Division Director, at [email protected]
You can also call our office to update your information.
THE LEGISLATOR • 6
eugenics-sterilization bill. The governor’s office, he said, “hasn’t talked to him about eugenics.” Womble said he realizes that getting the legislature to support any new spending in the current budget climate is a long shot. “At the same time, I think this legislature has risen in the past to give this issue serious consideration,” he said.
In Memoria m
Mississippi Staffer Passes
Mrs. Danita Joy Little Jones was a fourth-generation O’Rourke descendant of Shandy Wesley Jones and Evalina Love Jones. Shandy was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives and Evalina was a Choctaw Indian Princess and a descendant of Chief Tushkalusa (now Tuscaloosa). Many family members continue to serve in public office and/or work in state or federal government. Danita was no exception. She served as a staff person in the Mississippi House of Representatives for her entire professional career. Danita was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on September 27, 1960. She departed this life on Tuesday, June 14, 2005. She received her early education from the Meridian Public Schools and graduated from Meridian Senior High School. After receiving her diploma, she earned an A.A. degree at Meridian Junior College (now Meridian Community College) and a B.A. degree from Jackson State University. On July 20, 1996, she was united in holy matrimony to Reginald Jones. Danita was a member of the Greater Mount Calvary Senior Usher Board, Rho Lamda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, H.M. Thompson Court #242A and Treasurer of Just Between Girlfriends Book Club. She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Timothy R. and Sally Reese O’Rourke and her fraternal grandfather, Rufus Little, Sr. Mrs. Jones is survived by her husband, Reginald; mother, Harriet O. Keys of Jackson; Father, Reuben R. Little of Meridian and a host of other family members, in-laws, and friends.
State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez Named One of the 2005 Ten Outstanding Young Americans
Rep. Sanchez, who represents Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and Brookline in Massachusetts, was presented with an award by the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees) at the Massachusetts World Trade Center on September 17. Sanchez, 36, has worked in some form of government service since 1995 after working in the financial services industry for a number of years. Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez has continued his strong role in government service being responsive to each group he represents, focusing his efforts in seeking to address immediate challenges and shortcomings for those people who are disengaged and disenfranchised from government and their community. Constantly seeking innovative approaches to his community’s most pressing concerns, Jeffrey is consistently engaged in workforce development opportunities on behalf of his community within the paradigm of institutional expansion in Boston’s world renowned Longwood Medical area.
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His accomplishments are numerous. Sanchez has authored sections of the state budget to preserve two-way bilingual education, increase funding for SchoolBased Health Centers, and support workforce development and training programs throughout his district. His legislative efforts include increased patient access for asthma education and training, lifting enrollment caps on certain MassHealth programs, and increased funding for summer jobs for youth. The Ten Outstanding Americans program (TOYA) is one of the oldest and most prestigious recognition programs in America. Annually since 1938, The United States Jaycees has sought out the ten young men and women who best exemplify the
finest attributes of America’s youthful achievers. For more information contact Brad Gemeinhart at 918-584-2481 ext. 418.
Washington Named to New Positions in Pennsylvania
Newly elected to the Senate by defeating her Republican opponent in a special
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7 • NEWS 2005 • December
In Memoria m
Former Illinois State Senator Succumbs
Former State Senator Margaret Smith served 22 years in the Illinois State Legislature. She was elected to the Illinois House in 1980 and served one two-year term there. In 1982, she was elected to the Illinois Senate. Smith was re-elected to the Senate six times and served as Senator for 20 years. She retired from the Senate in December 2002. In the legislature, Senator Smith was nationally recognized for her support of women’s health care and health care affecting children, infants, and the poor. For nearly a decade, Senator Smith served as chairperson of the influential Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Corrections Committee. During her tenure as chairperson, Senator Smith guided some of the most pressing and sweeping legislation on health care through her committee, much of which served as a model for the nation. Senator Smith also was the sponsor of legislation requiring the state to cover mammograms for poor women and requiring insurance companies to cover mammograms. Many health care organizations recognized Smith’s efforts on health care issues. She received the coveted “Legislator of the Year Award” from every major health care organization in the state, including: the Illinois Nurses Association, the Illinois Hospital Association, and the Illinois Health Care Association. Senator Margaret Smith authored the legislation commissioning the sculpture of statutes of Adelbert H. Roberts, the first African American to serve in the state legislature; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr; and the portrait of former Senator Fred J. Smith, her husband. Robert’s statue sits in the second floor Rotunda of the State Capitol. Dr. King’s statue sits in Springfield on the grounds of the Illinois State Library at the intersection of 2nd and Capitol Streets. Smith’s portrait hangs on the third floor of the Capitol next to the Senate Chamber. Senator Smith was a member of the Bethesda Baptist Church. She served as a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and the Metropolitan Business Professional Women. She was also a board member of the Ada S. McKinley Foundation and the Beatrice Caffrey Youth Center. Smith was married to the late Fred Smith, a former legislator who served for 36 years. They have no children. advocate for seniors, children and families for the past decade. Some of her top priorities include supporting domestic violence services for women. The Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund is dedicated to funding community-based programs to prevent child abuse and neglect. “I am honored by this appointment,” Washington said. “Child abuse and neglect are two of the most horrendous crimes perpetrated against children. I will work diligently to ensure that all Pennsylvania children are able to lead safe, happy lives.” The CTF was established in 1988 by the Children’s Trust Fund Act is funded from a $10 surcharge on all applications for marriage licenses and divorce complaints. For more information contact Pamela Smith-Chavis at 717-783-2175.
Wisconsin Senator Attempts to Bring Fairness to the State
Coggs helps win renewed support for African World Festival • On March 2, Sen. Coggs announced that progress has been made regarding continuing financial security of the Festival. African World Festival is an annual celebration in honor of African heritage represented in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. The event is held every summer in Milwaukee at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds. Coggs says automatic gas tax increase fails fairness test • Sen. Coggs is co-sponsoring a bill that would require a vote by the full Legislature annually in order to raise the gas tax. The bill is co-authored by Senator Tim Carpenter and Representative Spencer Black. This is a bill that has been proposed in the past and with little success. Senator Coggs encourages people to contact their legislators and urge them to support this bill.
election to fill the vacancy in the 4th Senatorial District, LeAnna Washington has been named Democratic Chairwoman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee and is on the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund (CTF).
Senator Washington will also serve on Public Health and Welfare; Local Government; Communications and Technology; Veterans Affairs; and Finance and Policy committees. Washington has been a passionate
THE LEGISLATOR • 8
Coggs fights against Voter Suppression bill • Senator Spencer Coggs argued against the Republicans most recent effort to suppress the voting rights of minorities, the elderly, and students. The Photo ID Bill would require all Wisconsin citizens to present a photo ID at the polls when they cast their ballot. The bill, Assembly Bill 63, was re-introduced this session after the Governor vetoed a similar measure last session. Despite the fact that at least two separate committees are studying any potential voter irregularities, the Republican majority chose to forward this legislation without concern for the effect that it would have on voter turnout throughout the state of Wisconsin. After several hours of debate and eight proposed amendments by the Senate Democrats, the bill passed 21-12, with almost unanimous support by the Democrats. John Walsh, who has hosted “America’s Most Wanted” since 1987, spoke to the legislators about the importance of enacting laws in every state that will serve as a mandate for local law enforcement to send DNA samples for every convicted felon to labs to be analyzed and entered into a national database. Williams and the members of the NFWL Task Force vowed to act on Walsh’s request and bring this initiative back to their states. Williams also met with Sara Hart, Director of the National Institute of Justice; Acting Assistant Attorney General Tracey Henke (DOJ); Deputy Assistant Attorney General Cheri Nolan (DOJ), and several other high-level Administrative officials. For more information contact Jennifer Rosen, Deputy Policy Director at 202-2933040 ext 1008.
Historic Halal Foods Act passes in New York
Assemblyman Michael Benjamin and State Senator Martin Golden sponsored “Halal Foods Protection Act of 2005.” The law implements important disclosure requirements for “halal” labeling at every level of good production and requires record keeping standards for wholesalers and retail food establishments in the same manner as New York’s recently-enacted Kosher laws. “Muslim consumers of halal foods need to be protected from fraud and abuse,” said Assemblyman Benjamin. Assemblyman Benjamin’s law protects consumers by requiring vendors of foods sold as “halal” to disclose the basis for representing foods as such. “For the 2006 Muslim holidays of Ramadan and Eid, consumers can be assured of truly Halal food products, certified and available in stores and at markets,” Assemblyman Benjamin said. The new law also requires the labeling of foods as “Halal” by none other than the manufacturers or packager at its premises; that all producers or distributors of food labeled as “Halal” to register with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which will enforce the law; require appropriate labeling and signage by retailers of Halal foods; and enable patients to receive halal food or food products in nursing homes and hospitals. The law passed Assembly and Senate in June 2005. It was signed into Chapter 529 of the Laws of New York State 2005 by Governor George E. Pataki on August 16, 2005. Jim Rogers, President of the Food Industry Alliance and Iman Umar AbdulJalil, representing Masjidus Sabur, were both pleased with Assemblyman Benjamin’s support. New York is only the fifth state, behind New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and California, to enact such a law at a time when religious tolerance is a major issue on the American political landscape. For more information contact Kennedy Benjamin at 718-588-3119.
Representative Annette Williams Serves on Missing Persons Taskforce
The United States Department of Justice coordinated a national strategy meeting where Rep. Annette Williams (WI), John Walsh of the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and others gathered to discuss what can be done in the states on “Identifying the Missing.” Williams is one of seven women legislators selected out of over 2,000 women elected officials nationwide to serve on the National Foundation for Women Legislators’ (NFWL) Task Force on Missing Persons. The purpose of the Missing Persons Conference is to train officials from across the nation on this issue and raise public awareness in the states. NFWL’s members will work with the Administration and law enforcement officials to disseminate information and encourage collaboration between agencies to help solve Missing Persons cases in their states.
Little Rock Nine Receives Monumental Recognition
Arkansas State Senator Tracy Steele of North Little Rock sponsored Act 1483 to appropriate funds to erect the monument of the nine African American students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The Little Rock Nine are Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Dr. Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls Lanier, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed-Wair, and Melba Pattillo Beals. Local artists John and Kathy Deering were commissioned to design it. The unveiling occurred on Tuesday, August 30, just two hours before the United States Postal Service released a commemorative stamp depicting the Little Rock Nine at Central High School in Little Rock. The stamp is one of 10 commemorative postage stamps in a series called To Form A More Perfect Union. The sculpture is on the north side of the Capitol grounds. For more information contact John Reed at (501) 682-5964.
9 • NEWS 2005 • December
Senator Montgomery Recommends Re-entry Reform in New York
There is a lack of constructive programming and services available to those who are behind bars and in the community. There were more than 600,000 people released from America’s prisons last year. Of this amount, nearly 27,000 were discharged from New York State prisons with African American men and women comprising approximately 50 percent of the population. Preparing prisoners for their return home as well as supervising and helping them after their release is critical to preventing crime. New York’s network of re-entry and transitional services has a few positive aspects, but is nevertheless greatly in need of comprehensive reform. This is why Senator Velmanette Montgomery proposed legislation to reform the State’s network of re-entry and transitional services. One of the Senator’s re-entry initiatives, Senate bill 1063, creates the New York State Justice Reinvestment Program and Fund to improve the delivery of community-based criminal justice services operated by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Under the program, state and local criminal justice agencies will help community-based and faith-based organizations develop and deliver re-entry support services to retuning inmates that offer job development, housing assistance, parenting programs, education and other supportive assistance. The program also provides for the development of alternatives to incarceration, including: community service programs, community youth court, alternative high schools, service-enriched supportive housing and community-based drug treatment. A $10 million fund is established to support the work of qualifying groups. The fund is to be operated jointly by DCJS and the New York State Comptroller. Groups would be invited to apply for funding awards. For more information contact Sen. Velmanette Montgomery at (518) 455-3451.
James Commends Staff Member for Volunteering in Relief Effort
Christa Vinson, a legislative assistant in James’ Harrisburg office, volunteered for two weeks outside of Biloxi, Mississippi. In order to volunteer, she was trained by Red Cross. Rep. Harold James (PA) said that Vinson is a part-time student in the medical field, and that she used her specialized skills by driving an emergency vehicle to different areas of the state to delivering food and supplies. Vinson described the towns she visited as “dead” and that in some cases, homes looked okay from the outside, but inside they were completely gutted. Vinson added that the kitchen that supplied the meals she was delivering prepared up to 8,500 meals a day. “I am extremely proud of Christa, and happy she returned home safely,” James said. “Leaving home and volunteering amid such devastation is not easy. I am sure Christa’s children are also happy to have her home.” For more information contact Nicole Reigelman, Democratic Communications Office, at 717-787-7895.
Delegate Baskerville served on the Richmond City Council for nearly four years and was elected Vice Mayor by her council peers. In 1997, when Delegate Jean Cunningham stepped down after 12 years of service, Delegate Baskerville was elected to the 71st district, which includes the downtown and north side of the City of Richmond as well as a portion of Henrico County. Baskerville currently is a member of the Health, Welfare and Institutions and Science and Technology Committees. For more information contact Delegate Baskerville at 804.303-5238.
The Special Health Section complied by Deana McRae, NBCSL Health Policy Manager. Deana can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]
New NBCSL Directory Available
The NBCSL 2005-2006 Directory order form is now available! Visit us on the web at www.nbcsl.com or contact the national office for a copy. The directory is not available on-line but it is available on hard copy. The cost is $28.00 and includes regular shipping.
Good Housekeeping Award for Women In Government
In July 2005, Good Housekeeping magazine and the Center for Women and Politics (CAWP) honored Delegate Viola Baskerville of Virginia for her sponsorship of legislation to create state-funded scholarships for former students who were locked out because of the 1954 decision in the state of Virginia where schools were closed. Baskerville received $2,500 for her exemplified work as a government official who improved people’s lives.
THE LEGISLATOR • 10
By: Deana McRae, NBCSL Health Policy Manager
NBCSL and NHCSL Convene in California: Discussing Health Disparities in Minorities
ven with improvements over the past decade in the United States health care system, minorities still experience barriers in access and service to quality health care. The US Department of Health and Human Services selected six areas of focus in which minorities experience health care disparities: infant mortality, cancer screening and management, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and immunizations. Without eliminating health care disparities in minority communities, other disparities can develop and affect the national health care system. In September, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) met in Dana Point, California for their 3rd Annual Health Disparities Conference sponsored by AstraZeneca. The conference allowed state legislators to address various health disparities affecting minorities across the nation, including barriers to access and quality health care services. Health disparities exist largely in minority populations due to the quality of access and services provided to minorities, which have led to higher rates of morbidity and mortality. As stated by a number of the presenters during the conference, barriers to quality care, including affordability, insurance, cultural competency, and availability are part of the problems that cause health disparities. Dr. Garth Graham, Deputy Assistant Secretary with the Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, addressed health disparities faced by both African-American and Hispanic communities. He suggested that health disparity issues are not based on race, but a basic national unity concern. Dr. Graham discussed the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Plan. According to Dr. Graham, 87% of the minority population over the age of 65 has required prescription drugs from their health care provider; therefore access to and affordability of prescription drugs is significant. Dr. Graham also discussed public health issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina’s affects on the Gulf States. In his talk, Dr. Graham emphasized that cultural competency played a critical role in the public health of individuals affected by Hurricane Katrina. Health care professionals lacked the knowledge and experience in providing services to diverse populations in extreme conditions of the hurricane. Other presenters for the conference included: Dr. Valerie Romero-Leggott, Director of Cultural & Ethnic Programs; Dr. Karen Johnson, Medical Director and Director of Academic Affairs, Augustus F. Hawkins Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center; Dr. Maria Rios, Cardiologist, San
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NBCSL, NHCSL, and CSG Convene in Chicago to Discuss Obesity Epidemic
Standing left to right: Representative Mary H. Coleman (MS), President, National Black Caucus of State Legislators; Representative Joe Armstrong (TN), Vice-Chair, NBCSL Committee on Health; Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (NY); and Elizabeth Burgos, Executive Director, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislator pose for a picture after receiving the 2005 Health Disparities Leadership Award during the NBCSL/NHCSL Health Disparities Conference.
n July of 2004, NBCSL was approached by the Council of State Governments (CSG) to enter into a grant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address health issues in six categorical areas: HIV/AIDS and STDs, Environment, Chronic Disease, Immunization, Adolescent and School Health, and Birth Defects. In January 2005, NBCSL officially began work on the grant. Through this grant, NBCSL was able to bring on a new staff member, Deana McRae, who has assumed the position of NBCSL’s Health Program Manager. Through the CSG Cooperative Agreement, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators partnered with CSG to convene a meeting on obesity. From July 20 – July 22, NBCSL and NHCSL joined the Council of State Governments in Chicago, Illinois for the “Trends Summit on Obesity.” The conference examined the health and economic burden of the overweight and obesity epidemic, informed legislators about proven and promising strategies currently being employed by states to address the epidemic, identified policy options available to fight obesity, and examined useful resources to help communities prevent and control the obesity epidemic. Obesity has become a public health issue commanding action on many policy fronts, including health disparities. State governments are answering the call to action to the obesity epidemic and recognize that there is no single policy solution. NBCSL members recognize that resolving the obesity epidemic requires modern policy solutions, along with community and private sector involvement to improve healthcare. Several policy resolutions were suggested at the meeting, including state physical education programs, urbanization, transportation, welfare reform, and work patterns.
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11 • NEWS 2005 • December
NBCSL Works with CDC to Address HIV/AIDS and STDs
First case of AIDS reported in the United States: 1981 Cases of HIV/AIDS in 2003: Over 1 Million Deaths from HIV/AIDS in 2003: Estimated 500,000 African American race: Represent 13 percent of the population and 49 percent of the estimated AIDS diagnosed cases through 2003 African American Women: Account for 67 Percent of Estimated new AIDS diagnosed in the U.S. Young adults and teens: At least half of all new HIV infections are those under 25 AIDS cases among African Americans with an estimated prevalence: California District of Columbia Florida Georgia Illinois Maryland New Jersey New York Pennsylvania Texas
or decades, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have continued to be a health threat in the United States. The CDC estimates that almost half of the 19 million STD infections that occur annually are among youth between the ages 15 to 24. STDs have had a quiet but large impact on the minority community. Based on CDC reported data, minority groups have higher rates of STDs, while specific infections have higher rates in some geographic areas compared to other areas. There are numerous STDs, however, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis are the top three plaguing the African-American communities, especially women in the Southern states region. A concern to the federal and state governments is that STDs pose a tremendous economic burden on funding, in which direct medical costs can be as high as $15.5 billion in a single year. On July 7th, NBCSL convened in Miami, Florida for the final of three HIV/AIDS and STD meetings entitled “Addressing the Gaps in HIV/AIDS and STD Health Disparities Among African-Americans.” At the meetings held during the three-year cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control Division of HIV, STD, and TB prevention, NBCSL integrated three topic areas: faith-based initiatives, youth, and rural access to healthcare. These areas were initially agreed upon during the first HIV/AIDS and STD meeting of NBCSL legislators in June 2003 in Washington, DC. During this year’s meeting, NBCSL welcomed an array of speakers who shared information on how to initiate legislative action on the epidemic. Each speaker addressed prevention methods for legislators to introduce in their states to eliminate the high rate of HIV/AIDS and STDs among the African-American population. Legislators discussed the importance of forming relationships with faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and state prisons in order to identify and resolve health problems. Members highlighted the need for legislators to research the positive impact of the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act will have over the next five years. NBCSL members recognized the need to use the Minority AIDS Initiative when reaching out to connect individuals in a culturally competent manner. Proposed resolutions included: state health departments providing information on obituaries and the official cause of death; encouragement of members to join their respective state Appropriations Committee and work to focus on healthcare spending; forming partnerships with national organizations dedicated to combating the epidemic; developing a call to action in individual states to address funding appropriations for the Ryan White Care Act, the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, and other minority AIDS prevention programs. Challenges to an effective prevention program that states face are the lack of priority funding for prevention programs, such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, and the lack of appreciation of prevention methods. Education and prevention is not being promoted to the general public and the lack of consistent community support is also another difficulty. Legislators agreed to concentrate on the Southern rural areas where HIV is rapidly spreading.
Other issues were: creating sustainable appropriate funding streams; enhancing coordination with other federal HIV/AIDS spending; and placing HIV/AIDS in national health disparities dialogues. Major policy issues addressed were: • uniform code-based reporting across all state health departments; mandating testing for individuals in the criminal justice system before re-entering into society; • the power of state legislators encouraging constituents to become informed about the epidemic, which includes funding for education and prevention; • monitoring health status to identify and condemn the community health problems; • problems in accessing healthcare and HIV testing particularly in the Southern state regions; cultural competency; • addressing the stigma in relation to HIV and STD; • appropriating funds to address the needs in HIV and STD care; • and mandated HIV and STD testing in prenatal care.
THE LEGISLATOR • 12
The Silent Killer: Diabetes in the African American Community
urrently, diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States; for African-Americans, it is one of the top three leading causes of death. According to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003 trends show that the minority population is disproportionately affected by diabetes. Approximately 2.7 million African-Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes, a rate that is 60 percent higher than Whites. The prevalence of diabetes increases among African-Americans ranging 65 to 74 years of age. There are more cases of overweight and higher rates of obesity among African-American females than their male counterparts in all race and ethnic groups. People with less than a high school education also have a higher prevalence of both obesity and diabetes than people who have a high school education. National reports have shown that an estimated 85 percent of cases with the onset of diabetes can be related to obesity. The disparity of access to quality health care has played a major role in the diabetes epidemic within the African-American community. The financial impact of diabetes on our nation is astounding. According to Dr. Rickie Keys, founder of the National Institute to Combat Health Disparities, approximately $132 billion or one tenth of federal health care funding goes to the total annual economic cost of diabetes, in which nearly $90 billion goes to direct costs for diabetes treatment and care. The average annual health care cost per person with diabetes is $13,243 compared to $2,560 for the average person without diabetes. Medicaid is a federal and state funded insurance program offered to certain low-income individuals and families in need of long-term care assistance, many of whom have been diagnosed with diabetes. Because of the state budget cuts, many states are adjusting Medicaid funds in order to accommodate the needs of their constituents. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and NBCSL convened a “Diabetes Summit: The State of Diabetes in America” to follow-up an initial meeting at GSK’s headquarters in Philadelphia, PA during NBCSL’s Annual Legislative Conference in 2004. GSK was a major sponsor
during the conference and brought actress and diabetes advocate, Ms. Della Reese, who along with NBCSL President Mary H. Coleman (MS) and NBCSL Vice-President Calvin Smyre (GA), participated in several interviews around the country to draw awareness to diabetes. In the follow-up Diabetes Summit in July 2005, more than 40 NBCSL members came to Naples, Florida to discuss ways to address diabetes in their respective states affecting the African-American community. NBCSL legislators were able to hear presentations from several distinguished speakers including: Dr. James Gavin III, Emory University; Diana Bajoie, Louisiana State Senator; Caya Lewis, Kaiser Family Foundation; Shaun Hill, National Kidney Foundation; Roniece Weaver; Ruben King-Shaw; Dr. Rickie Keys, National Institute to Combat Health Disparities; Dr. Marilyn Gaston, former Assistant Surgeon General; Ivan Lanier, American Diabetes Association; and Dr. Alvin Jackson. NBCSL legislative members addressed policy issues concerning diabetes, such as treatment refunds, cultural competency among providers and treatment for diabetes, Medicare budget concerns, a call to action in education and cuts in physical education classes, and funding for renal disease screening. Several recommendations were suggested for resolution, including: the impact of vending machines and nutrition plans for schools; developing a national state culture task force involving kidney associations; patient driven organizations and chronic disease coordinators at state levels; working with pharmaceutical companies that offer prescription discount programs; health summits in representative states; and the Kidney Early Evaluation.
Left: Rep. Mary H. Coleman (MS), NBCSL President, with Christopher Viehbacher, President, US Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline in Naples, FL during the Diabetes Summit. Right: Charles G. Williams, State Government Affairs Manager, GlaxoSmithKline (standing), addresses participants of the summit including Rep. Joe Armstrong (TN), NBCSL Health Vice Chair (seated).
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Legislators heard presentations from several distinguished speakers including: Dr. Janet Collins with the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at CDC; Governor Mike Huckabee; and Dr. James S. Marks with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Conference participants were broken into five policy workgroups to discuss possible policy options for addressing obesity through: 1) community design and promoting physical activity; 2) schools and children; 3) agriculture, food supply, and nutrition; 4) business, employers, and private sector initiatives; and 5) Medicaid and state employee health benefits.
Several policy resolutions were suggested at the meeting, including state physical education programs, urbanization, transportation, welfare reform, and work patterns. Legislators were able to take back to their respective states several methods for addressing obesity, including encouraging worksite wellness programs, support communities that promote more active living, encouraging health care systems to fight obesity more effectively, broader access to healthier food choices in low-income communities, ensure youth access to healthier foods in schools, and more physical activity among children.
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13 • NEWS 2005 • December
special HEALTH committee
business & finance
NBCSL Attends CDC’s HIV Prevention Conference in Georgia
Banking on the Unbanked
By: Chantel Bivins, Managing Editor
n June, NBCSL members attended the 2005 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. NBCSL members learned ways to address HIV prevention in the United States, particularly in the African-American community. At the conference, legislators participated in plenary sessions focusing on the HIV epidemic, which has disproportionately overwhelmed women, youth, and African-American communities. With the growing rate of HIV among minorities, the problem lies in prevention and treatment. Unfortunately, approximately 25 percent of the population is undiagnosed and unaware of their HIV infection. Currently, the growing adverse attitude associated with HIV serves as a barrier to testing and counseling services, access to care and disclosure of one’s HIV status. Both the federal and state governments must develop new strategies for HIV prevention in order to deal with the rapidly changing epidemic. Federal and state governments should consider the following: 1) Mandating HIV testing as a routine part of medical care; 2) Implementing new models for diagnosing HIV infections outside of medical settings; 3) Preventing new infections by educating constituents and working with persons diagnosed with HIV and their partners, and lastly; 4) Decreasing perinatal HIV transmission. During the HIV Prevention Conference, major policy issues relevant to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic included: related cost savings for the states as a result of prevention programs; measuring the change in perceived impact of mandated HIV testing policy, such as clinicians routinely screening all pregnant women for HIV infections; and the concerns of unfair U.S. criminal justice policies on the African-American male in relation to re-entering society. The CDC recommended four FDA approved, rapid HIV test that can be as effective compared to other HIV testing. These tests are OraQuick Advance, Uni-Gold Recombigen, Reveal G2, and Multispot. Even now with the introduction of rapid testing offered in several medical settings, people are able to have the test administered and results back in a less amount of time.
he disparities are great between the Caucasian and the African American communities on issues ranging from education to health to finances. Ten million American households are “unbanked” or “underbanked.” These households are lower income, disproportionately poor, minority, young and less educated than the general population. Conventional wisdom has held that many low-income consumers cannot afford a traditional bank account because of high maintenance fees. When in actuality, the banking products offered by mainstream banks do not fit the spending and saving needs of low-income consumers, and banks are failing to tailor their products to compete effectively in low-income markets. Consumers then turn to Pay Day lenders, Check cashing facilities or even Pawnshops to supply their banking needs. These types of institutions offer convenience and easy access to cash but they may charge high prices. There is a debate on whether Pay Day lenders or Check cashing facilities take advantage of minorities. An article in the September issue of Ebony stated: While the industry paints a picture of its customers as middle-income families who need short-term solution to a temporary cash-flow problem, a stroll through Black, working-class neighborhoods reveals a truer reality. Representative Mary H. Coleman (MS), President of The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), formed a Task Force earlier this year and commissioned them to provide an independent analysis of “Race Matters: The Concentration of Pay-Day Lenders in AfricanAmerican neighborhoods in North Carolina,” which examines the neighborhood impact of payday lending in North Carolina and states that payday lending storefronts are disproportionately located in African-American neighborhoods. Therefore, a briefing was held in Orlando, FL in May of 2005 to study the following: • How low and moderate income Americans are targeted because they have less than perfect credit ratings; • “Race Matters: The Concentration of Pay-Day Lenders in AfricanAmerican neighborhoods in North Carolina”; • Convene a meeting of the taskforce to learn more about payday lending, including an overview; and • Look to find out if Payday Lending centers operate and service only specific race and socioeconomic characteristics. According to the Center for Policy Alternatives, only 34 states have laws or regulations that specifically permit payday loans. Two states, New Mexico and Wisconsin, have no small loan usury caps that apply to payday loans, effectively authorizing payday lending practices. Of the states that allow payday lending, only seven have statutes that prohibit local companies from partnering with out-ofstate banks to evade state restrictions on these payday loans. In 2004, Georgia enacted the strongest payday lending law to date. Georgia’s law caps small loans at 60 percent APR, prescribes harsh penalties for violators of the state’s lending and consumer
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In order to observe the changing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in July 2005 that all states and territories should establish a confidential name-based HIV surveillance system. To date, only 43 states and local health departments use confidential name-based reporting methods, as shown in the above diagram.
THE LEGISLATOR • 14
COVER STORY: College Board
(IN), along with other Post-Secondary Education committee members learned about the needs and problems of schools, students, and parents as identified by The College Board. Also discussed were novel approaches by The College Board to close the preparedness gap and to reach African American collegebound students. The need for model legislation and school-based initiatives that increase access to college preparation courses and quality teacher training was conveyed to NBCSL members during this policy briefing. Speakers emphasized how legislators need to make education a #1 priority in building communities. Speakers included: • Peter Negroni, Senior Vice President, K-12 Services; • Ayeola Boothe Kinlaw, Director, AP Equity/Access; • Jim Montoya, Vice President, Higher Education Assessments, Services and Regions, and College Board Trustee; • Dr. Vivian Lee, Ed.D., Higher Ed School Counselor, National Office for Counselor Advocacy; • Tom Rudin, Vice President of Government Relations and Development; and • Lee Fails, Vice President for Regions and K-12 Services. NBCSL legislators plan to use model legislation presented at The College Board policy briefing in their respective states. Other major issues highlighted were: 1) the crisis and gaps in African American and Hispanic student achievement; 2) how to increase minority participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high schools through greater equity and access; 3) legislative advances for AP courses; and 4) the link between educational and social realities. Other agreed-upon goals were greater incorporation of non-profit organizations and parents. NBCSL President, Representative Mary H. Coleman (MS) requested that NBCSL members and The College Board plan to develop a “Parent Guide.” This guide will contain academic timelines, online resources, statistical research, and other helpful information for parents and high school students of color. in the neighborhood. He challenged NBCSL members to see colleges as the focal point to changing and improving neighborhoods. The inequity in wealth creation was another major issue highlighted at NBCSL’s Policy Briefing on Mortgage Lending. Jim Carr, Senior Vice President of the Fannie Mae Foundation, stated that “We must learn the difference between income and wealth.” According to Fannie Mae statistical data, Caucasians have a 100-100 return on wealth as opposed to African Americans with 62-12 and Hispanics have 69-9 return. Legislators were pleased with the outcome of the 6th Annual NBCSL Policy Briefing on Mortgage Lending. The presentations and keynote addresses touched on related issues tied to the homeownership and mortgage lending procedures. NBCSL and Fannie Mae continues to strengthen partnerships and close the homeownership gap.
The Housing Bubble: NBCSL’s 6th Annual Policy Briefing on Mortgage Lending
By: Abeo F. Anderson, Policy Associate, NBCSL Committee on Housing
he National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) held its Sixth Annual Housing and Homeownership event with great success. The 2005 “Policy Briefing on Mortgage Lending” was attended by twenty-five state representatives, including NBCSL Committee on Housing Chairperson, Representative Larry Womble (NC). Also, in attendance were members of the World Conference of Mayors (WCM), the National Association of Black Elected Officials (NABEO), and Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America (OIC). African American state legislators were empowered by the knowledge gained on emerging practices in the housing market. Postpurchase counseling and the creation of new modules for financing home loans and tougher regulation of lenders, were among the emerging practices and initiatives to maintain homeownership. Other major focal points were 1) the inability to afford a home and build wealth, 2) being able to continue to afford property in the long run through savvy financial preparedness, 3) the need for credit score assistance and 4) providing programs that educate people on how to access zero or low down payments, such as the Down Payment Assistance Program available as gifts to lenders. Insightful presentations about the homeownership process and discriminatory practices were made by Fannie Mae’s Government and Industry Relations office, the Fannie Mae Foundation, and others. Dan Mudd, new President and CEO of Fannie Mae, made remarks and welcomed a continuing relationship with NBCSL members in various states. In his keynote address, Congressman Artur Davis (AL) stated how the power of information and working with home loan counselors is a challenge in the awareness-building campaign. Davis said that “getting the information out can be difficult with over 2,000 agencies using different software programs.” Ken Bacon, Senior Vice President and Interim Head of Housing and Community Development at Fannie Mae said that Fannie Mae’s Priority #1 is “The R’s” – Regulate, Restatement, Rebuilding Cultural Relations, Relations, Restructuring Teams. Dr. Hassan Minor, Senior Vice President, Howard University, encouraged stronger relationships between local universities and the community development programs
Dr. Hassan Minor, Senior VP, Howard University greets housing symposium attendees
15 • NEWS 2005 • December
NBCSL and the Indiana Legislative Black Caucus Combat Mentally Illness
n 2003, President George W. Bush signed the largest advancement of Medicare since 1965, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). Since then, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been working to put into practice the adjustments to the Medicare program. MMA was created to bring more affordable health care, prescription drug coverage, expansion in health plan options and preventive care services. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the new Medicare prescription drug coverage is a form of insurance provided to Medicare recipients through private companies. The various Medicare drug plans will assist individuals in paying for prescribed brand name and generic drugs. CNN reported that the Federal government will spend an estimated $720 billion over the next 10 years to subsidize beneficiaries’ drug purchases. This fall, NBCSL members attended the 12th Annual NBCSL/ Indiana Legislative Black Caucus Conference, “The Medicare Modernization Act and its Impact on the Mentally Ill,” sponsored by Eli Lilly. The conference allowed state legislators the opportunity to address issues surrounding MMA and mental health affecting minority communities. Mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and panic disorder are frequently diagnosed in all populations. Mental illnesses are hindering conditions affecting all communities, regardless of gender, age, race, or ethinicity. The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General reported in 2004, that minorities are less likely to receive mental health services and are more likely to receive poorer quality of care for a mental illness. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA), racial and ethnic minorities experience a greater disability burden from mental illness than do whites. Minority communities have less access to mental health services, receive poorer quality of mental health treatment, and a societal stigma toward mental illness. In addition, other barriers such as the cost of care, mistrust and fear of the mental health provider, and cultural competency can effect the outcome of access and service for many minorities and underserved populations experiencing mental health barriers. The existence of mental health disparities may be more complex than are known. Patients and their families may create barriers
Standing left to right: Nate Miles, Eli Lilly; Dr. Sandra Gadson, National Medical Association President; Representative Mary H. Coleman (MS), NBCSL President; and Representative Calvin Smyre (GA), NBCSL Vice-President gather at the 12th Annual NBCSL and Indiana Legislative Black Caucus Conference, “The Medicare Modernization Act and its Impact on the Mentally Ill,” sponsored by Eli Lilly.
surrounding disparities, while lack of quantity and quality access and service in the health care system may deter patients. According to presenter Dr. Rahn Bailey, research shows obstacles to care include 1) lack of knowledge about symptoms, 2) treatment and consequences of untreated mental health and 3) and the obvious fear of over-diagnosis or misdiagnosis. The responsibility for mental health disparities, faced by minorities, may likely be a combination of several barriers. NBCSL also welcomed the inspirational Roslyn Brock, ViceChairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In addition to her work with NAACP, Ms. Brock is an advocate committed to working on behalf of vulnerable populations, such as the mental health community. She gave an uplifting presentation to the audience. NBCSL President Mary H. Coleman (MS) led a standing ovation to Ms. Brock’s touching rendition about real life experiences and successes in mental health. Other presenters during the mental conference included: Katherine Lester, Eli Lilly; Sidney Taurel, President and CEO of Eli Lilly; Nancy Jewell, President and CEO of Indiana Minority Health Coalition; Teresa Hatten, Vice-President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Fort Wayne; Andrew Sperling, Director of Federal Legislative Advocacy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; and Dr. Sandra Gadson, President of the National Medical Association. Conference presenters encouraged continuing appropriation support from their respective states for funding mental health programs and addressing insurance discriminations in the mental health community. Several representatives from national organizations encouraged state governments to support a comprehensive health insurance parity that will not discriminate against the mentally ill. In the United States, minority populations continue to be underserved in the mental health community. In order to preserve a community facing as many disparities and discrimination, AfricanAmericans experiencing mental health should understand the cultural impacts and life stressors that may cause mental health disorders and receive the appropriate support from state and local health departments.
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Pablo Hospital; Dr. Don Muse, President, Muse and Associates; Linda Schofield, President, Schofield Consulting; and Dr. Rickie Keys. Several presenters suggested that legislators need to “act now”! Leading to the question: what can state legislators do? Presenters suggested: • Understanding the health disparities affecting minority communities; • Proper appropriation of funds toward addressing health disparities in each state; • Sustaining Medicaid for the future; • Working with the uninsured and underinsured; • Holding states and local agencies responsible for health care; • And initiate policies for cultural competence training for health professionals. The future health of the nation is dependent on reducing and eliminating the health disparities that exist in minorities experiencing disproportionate burdens of diseases and disabilities.
THE LEGISLATOR • 16
National Black Caucus of State Legislators
Annual Legislative Conference
The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, the State of Mississippi & the City of Jackson welcome you to our great city November 27 — December 3, 2006.
NBCSL Jackson, Mississippi 2006
COVER STORY: Medicaid Matters
adults said Medicaid is a “very important” government program, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation national poll. Still, this year will likely mark the end of Medicaid as we know it. With the economic downturn and an aging population, Medicaid enrollment has increased at a rate that is unsustainable. Medicaid costs are busting many states’ budgets and crowding out funding for other programs. For most states, Medicaid is the single biggest budget item, eclipsing spending on elementary and secondary education. In Tennessee, for instance, Medicaid accounts for 33.9 percent of the state budget. By one estimate, TennCare could consume 40 percent by 2008. In Missouri and Mississippi, Medicaid spending is 32.6 percent and 25.8 percent, respectively, of the state budget. To address their mutual concern about strengthening a mainstay of the social safety net, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) convened a policy briefing in Charleston, S.C., “Medicaid Reform: Cut Costs, Not People.” NBCSL and AARP are concerned that short-term budgetary fixes are driving the policy debate about how to reform Medicaid. The focus of the two-day convening was the impact of state budget deficits on Medicaid coverage and access to quality health care. The participants shared legislative solutions and state cost containment strategies. Those strategies include: cutting eligibility or eliminating categories of beneficiaries; reducing provider reimbursement rates; requiring prior authorization for prescription drugs; raising or imposing co-payments for services; and tightening asset transfer rules. Medicaid is the top legislative priority for the National Governors Association. The governors have developed a
bipartisan plan to promote four principal objectives: reforming Medicaid; reducing Medicaid costs and enhancing quality of care; strengthening employer-based health care programs; and slowing the growth of Medicaid long-term care. At the federal level, Health and Human Service’s Secretary Mike Leavitt has established a Medicaid Commission to advise the Secretary on ways to modernize the Medicaid program so that it can provide high-quality health care to its beneficiaries in a financially sustainable way. By Sept. 1, the Commission must report back on how to save $10 billion over five years. A second report, due Dec. 31, 2006, will offer recommendations on how to expand coverage while holding down costs. A report of the AARP-NBCSL policy briefing, Medicaid Reform: Cut Costs, Not People, is available on NBCSL’s website at http: //www.nbcsl.com. For more information, please visit the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, at http://www.kff.org/ about/kcmu.cfm.
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We certainly don’t encourage our associates to apply for public health benefits nor do we design our plans to be subsidized by them. We offer eight different health plan options plus HMOs in some areas; these plans cost as low as $40 a month for single associates and $155 a month for family coverage. A significant aspect of our program, which also is frequently overlooked in the media, is that Wal-Mart health insurance has no “cap.” Our covered associates’ insurance will not be cancelled, and bills will continue to be paid, even when costs exceed the $1 million “lifetime” cap typical of many private health insurance plans. As you can imagine, this kind of insurance is very expensive to provide. We do so based on our belief that associates with serious illnesses should not have to worry about their medical bills. Our approach has significant societal benefits as well, particularly when you consider studies -- including Harvard University research – that link 30 to 40 percent of personal bankruptcies to medical problems. We agree: health care costs are a problem (witness the difficulties faced by General Motors, one of America’s great
companies). We believe it’s past time for a thoughtful, national solution to health care costs (which unions like SEIU and UFCW have failed to propose). Until that dialogue occurs, we will continue to work hard to provide affordable, comprehensive coverage to associates who, without Wal-Mart, might have no job or insurance at all. Please note that the true facts about Wal-Mart are available to you and your staff 24 hours a day via our Web site, www.walmartfacts.com.
Information for Policymakers (LRT)
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with no coverage; that is the purpose of the program. But should your state—or any state—be forced to pay the health care costs for employers with billions of dollars in profits but who don’t provide affordable health care to their employees? The Health Care Accountability Act can help to provide answers to that question. With your help, we can bring accountability to the nation’s public health care system.
THE LEGISLATOR • 18
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About Obesity 1. Obesity is an epidemic that is unprecedented in speed and is spreading among racial and ethnic groups. 2. Obesity is a growing health issue in America and a major issue within African-American and Hispanic American communities. 3. Obesity is a major cause of mortality and can contribute to increased risk and complications toward diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. 4. Obesity is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States affecting both adults and children. It is the second highest cause of death in the United States. 5. About 65 percent of US adults are either overweight or obese, and one in every six children is considered overweight. 6. In 2003, there were approximately 172,000 deaths due to obesity or obesity related illnesses, such as diabetes. 7. Data suggests that every year, there are fewer deaths due to diabetes for Americans, but many still are living with devastating and costly illnesses. 8. Annually, the US government will spend approximately $117 million on obesity or obesity related illnesses, including $61 billion in direct medical costs for treatment and $56 billion in indirect cost, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 9. The health cost associated with the obesity epidemic has now exceeded the cost of tobacco use.
Source: Centers for Disease Prevention and American Obesity Association
My Experience as an NBCSL Intern
By: Nicole Sammuels, Sociology Major
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protection laws, and explicitly bars non-bank lenders from partnering with out-of-state institutions in order to avoid the state usury limit. Besides enacting state laws to cap or prevent payday lending, tapping into the “unbanked market” is another solution. In 2003, The FDIC hosted a symposium at the National Press Club “Tapping the Unbanked Market: Helping People Enter the Financial Mainstream.” The symposium dealt with attracting and retaining customers from unbanked populations, and ways to form meaningful partnerships in the community. As a result of the meeting, the proposed outreach strategy is as follows: • Participating banks should open specialized bank branches that provide CCO services; • The outlets should offer “starter” deposit accounts that have low minimum-balance requirements, cannot be overdrawn, and include access to low-cost money orders for making longdistance payments; • The outlets should offer accounts specifically designed to help people build savings; • The outlets should offer deposit-secured emergency loans to individuals whose credit histories make them ineligible for traditional mainstream credit; and • The outlets should seek community-based partners and offer financial literacy programs.
s a 19 year old sophomore at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, I was compelled and encouraged to seek out internships that help me in my career endeavors and future aspirations. Because my desires and interests lie mainly in the public service and policy sector, an internship that dealt indirectly with policy formation and evaluation was not only ideal but valuable. The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) fit that description perfectly. I sought an internship at NBCSL on the recommendation of Michael Wenger, Joint Center Associate and George Washington Professor. As I researched the organization further, I found that NBCSL was the best place to get myself acquainted with the “ins and outs” of public policy as it affects the African American and Hispanic American communities. Upon accepting the offer for the internship, I had particular goals in mind for what I hoped to derive from my experience at NBCSL. I expected to further develop my administrative skills, as well as absorb a better understanding of what role politics play in the African American community. I imagined extensive research on health disparities and housing incongruity, educational gaps and economic discrepancy. I anticipated meet and greets, rubbing elbows and networking. But what I actually discovered was much more beneficial. Of course I discovered the ins and outs of Microsoft Excel, learned to mail merge like a pro, refined my phone etiquette and became skilled at the art of faxing. I researched topics from housing to education to sports & entertainment. I also evaluated policy programs for housing and HIV. But what really made the internship worth all the trips to and from Annapolis by train, car, and Metro was the people skills I have now incorporated into my understanding of a corporate office. Many people have come through the office, some corporate and some diplomatic. But the ones that had the greatest impact were not the legislators or the businessmen, they were the people I saw almost every day and worked along side for the better part of 3 months. Originally, I envisioned an all women office (with one man), which I would be spending five hours a day in as a homogonous environment, of similar racial and ethnic background. However, what I found when I arrived was one of the most diverse and interesting mixture of people that could have been thrown together. I feel that I have effectively borrowed at least a piece of everyone’s administrative, organizational, and management styles to formulate my own personal corporate personality. Naturally, I will now sharpen my career focus based on the nonprofit experience, perhaps how to run or organize a nonprofit if that is where my aspirations lie. I now have a wealth of information on health and educational disparities to take back to my own college-based African American community. I can use my newly honed administrative skills for office tasks to come, whether it is personal or work related. But most importantly, I can market myself as a more developed, mature and seasoned corporate commodity thanks to those who I have had contact with during my time here at NBCSL. It has been more than a valuable experience to intern with the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. It was an honor and a privilege to work with such a wonderful and important organization. I’m so happy that I got the opportunity to learn from such a talented and fun group of people.
19 • NEWS 2005 • December
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PERSPECTIVE:
A Vision Beyond 2005
By LaKimba DeSadier Walker, NBCSL Executive Director
National Black Caucus of State Legislators
t is time to reflect on what America has lost this year, to recognize the importance of those losses, and to use those experiences to visualize a call to action for tomorrow. This year, our nation mourned the passing of, John Johnson, publisher; Reggie White, athlete/role model; C. Dolores Tucker, civil rights activist; Shirley Chisholm, legislator; Johnnie Cochran, attorney; and Rosa Parks, Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Each of these leaders has been important to the progress of African American people. Individually, they recognized the need for consistent participation in the fight for equality and justice, and pursued those goals effectively and with dignity. Collectively, the impact of their actions is immeasurable. We are truly inspired and humbled by their contributions. In keeping with the legacy of those extraordinary leaders, our members have battled daily to ensure that those same issues are protected and promoted on the state level. In Georgia and Indiana, NBCSL members have fought to protect the voting rights of many poor and elderly citizens who lack photo identification; which according to new legislation could prevent them from casting their vote. In Mississippi and Tennessee, legislators battled over new state provisions related to Medicaid. These are a few examples of the difficult work in which our membership is engaged, during a time when state budgets have been slashed and states’ needs have increased. Given the budget cuts, the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina on those states directly affected (Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi) and other states involved with providing support to displaced survivors have been devastating. State and local governments, communities, faith institutions, humanitarian organizations, and individuals have been left to deal with the immediate food, clothing, housing, and health care needs of hundreds of thousands of individuals, newly homeless as a result of the storm. The policy implications are complex, the economic costs are at best, rising estimates, and the human toll is like none ever experienced in America. The leadership of our African American state legislators is critically important to the recovery and re-building efforts for the region and to shaping policies that will better prepare the country for future emergencies on the local, state, and federal levels. This year’s NBCSL conference location, Washington, DC, provides a unique opportunity for conference sessions to be framed and heard within the national context. In DC, state legislators and other conference attendees will discuss policy on all levels of government. NBCSL conference sessions will be relevant and timely, focused on the catastrophic events of the year, the ongoing war, fluctuating gas prices, threats to homeland security, challenges to education and health care funding, and potential public health threats. December 7-11, 2005 will serve as the time for participants to visualize a call to action on these important issues. The National Black Caucus of State Legislators is the organization that will help shape that vision into state-level policy; where legislation comes to life and the goals of our great leaders past and present will be achieved.
December 7-11, 2005 Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, DC
DAY 1: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7
YOUTH CONGRESS LUNCHEON
Big Tigger Radio & Television Personality Black Entertainment Television
MEMORIAL SERV ICE
Reverend John W. Davis, Jr. Faith Missionary Baptist Church Gulfport, MS
DAY 2: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8
H. Patrick Swygert President, Howard University
CORPOR ATE ROUND TABLE LUNCHEON
Honorable Michael S. Steele Lieutenant Governor, State of Maryland
DAY 3: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9
NOBEL/WOMEN BREAK FAST
Lucille C. Norville Perez, MD National Health Director Health Advocacy Division of the NAACP LABOR ROUND TABLE LUNCHEON Edward J. McElroy President, American Federation of Teachers
DAY 4: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10
PR AYER BREAK FAST
Bishop Vashti McKenzie African Methodist Episcopal Church
Togo D. West, Jr. President & Chief Executive Officer Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies
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